CARTER COUNTY, OK - In private rooms at the Carter County Courhouse disputes will be settled, agreements heard and resolved.
The south central Early Settlement Mediation program celebrated their move to Carter County Friday afternoon and director Jaxie Johnston explains why they're here.
"It works out great that we're here in the Carter County Courthouse because Judge Baldwin actually refers cases to mediation and so we're right here and we can serve the community better by being here in Ardmore," said Johnston.
Funded by a grant sponsored by East Central University the program helps people settle their disputes outside the courtroom with about 20 trained volunteer mediators in ten counties.
The disputes mostly include small claims cases and divorces. Johnston said mediation can save time, money and frustration.
"In mediation the parties are the ones who make the decisions and come up with their own agreement," she said. "So agreements that people make on their own they're more likely to keep than things that the court might order."
And the benefits can extent past what can be offered in the courtroom..
"If we had to rely on just on courts to do that the courts would be so far behind we couldn't keep up," said Associate District Judge Lee Card.
Johnston said last year they had a 63 percent settlement rate. Court-ordered cases are free and all other disputes cost $5 per party.